BY PRIYAM BAGGA
The United States of America launched a full-fledged attack on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, in a bid to vanquish terror once and for all. They wanted to bomb Afghanistan until the Taliban decides to ‘give up’ Osama bin Laden, who was held responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers.
According to some, this claim was illegitimate and without adequate proof. Osama himself denied any direct involvement in the attack. Most alleged that he was not even the mastermind, but the ‘inspiration’ behind the attacks. Was the mere presence of one terrorist reason enough to bomb a whole nation? Granted, when you’re dealing with someone as deadly as Osama, collateral damage might be acceptable to some extent. But then, barging into a country just because you suspect Mr. Laden is hiding there, that too on faulty intelligence, is that justified?
Something eerily similar happened in Vietnam. With massive civilian casualties, it was a largely unsuccessful and costly “quagmire”.The most unpopular war of the twentieth century. The enemy, then, was not the Islamic terror but the Communists. The Americans left the country more unstable than it was when they came to ‘cleanse’ it.
‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ did destroy the Taliban regime, as it had intended. But Afghanistan itself went from bad to worse. The already crumbling infrastructure, which Afghanistan developed after the Russian invasion, was destroyed. The deplorable state of women, which many Americans cited as a reason to support the war, reportedly became even more pathetic with women reporting more violence due to the chaos of the war. Afghani casualties apart, America itself suffered huge troop losses.
Bush then decided to establish a government, just as they had tried to do with South Vietnam all those years ago, this time under Hamid Karzai. With accusations of nepotism, electoral fraud and involvement in the drug trade surrounding him, the present government of Afghanistan is as shaky as the previous ones. To Afghans now, as to Vietnamese then, the government is an arbitrary force to be feared, rather than a protector. The Americans had claimed they would bring democracy and progress to the backward country. But with corruption slowly eating away at Afghanistan’s very foundation, America has definitely failed to deliver on that count.
So why have people not protested like they did during the Vietnam War, or even the war on Iraq? The American government has always portrayed the war in Afghanistan as an act of pure self-defence post 9/11. America has always seen the Middle-East as a strategic location with natural resources waiting to be exploited, as displayed quite blatantly in the war against Saddam Hussein and his ‘nuclear weapons’.
It seems as if the all-too-powerful nation believes that it requires next to no justification to invade a country. Was the war only a bid for the hegemonic United States to show its military mettle? Was this ‘war on terror’ a mere façade? The debate still continues.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, there was a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and empathy all over the world for the United States.
If US officials had exercised intelligence and patience, instead of reacting in a knee-jerk military fashion, they could have spared the lives of so many innocent Afghanis in an unjustified war.